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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Corynocarpus laevigata, an evergreen tree of New Zealand, bearing elliptical fruits, orange in colour when ripe, which were formerly one of the most important foods of the Maori.

Although the flesh of the fruits is palatable, with a distinctive flavour which has been compared to that of apricots or dates, and despite the presence in the kernels of a powerful alkaloid poison, it was the kernels which the Maori ate. Preparation, to make them safe, was elaborate. The whole fruits were first poured into an earth oven (see new zealand) and steamed, then placed in a running stream, trampled on, left to soak for a considerable time, and finally dried. The recorded opinions of Europeans on their edible quality are mixed, but generally unenthusiastic.